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“The good and the ugly”
2 of 5 bubbles Review of Sihanoukville

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Melbourne
Level Contributor
27 reviews
57 helpful votes
“The good and the ugly”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 23, 2010

I love many parts of Sihanoukville, yet hate just as many. Having gone there for the last three years, I have seen the rapid deterioration of the charming areas as well as the expansion of casinos, large hotels and sex tourism. It is the only place I have been that Viagra and condoms are sold on the counter of every shop like gum or breath mints are here. I think that says a lot. (I am glad about the availability of condoms however the price would be prohibitive to most Khmers. This is a service to protect tourists rather than the locals).
There are still beautiful beaches, fantastic little French breakfasts, delicious seafood dinners on the beach for $3 - $3.50, magnificent islands, welcoming Khmers, charming budget bungalows on the beach, a great night life and many more reasons to visit Sihanoukville.
Island trips are offered everywhere at various prices. If you are looking for a day trip, I would recommend the triple story boat by Suntours that goes to the outer islands rather than the cheap and easy Bamboo Island options. The boat is great, food very good, the equipment well maintained and good quality, the owner cares about the environment and the islands are divine. For an extra $10 you get a lot more. This is my theory on Cambodia, the cheapest options are cheap yet the more expensive options are still cheap and a far greater bargain. For $15 you can sit in a little wooden motorboat and get ferried from inner island to island with a beach BBQ and guaranteed no environmental thought for their impact; for $25 you can choose the Suntours boat, visit the far more beautiful outer islands in high comfort, go on guided walks up rivers and into the rain forest, snorkel on the reef in privacy (not with 3 other boats and a boose cruise in the water with you), fish (but you will have to throw them back if they are undersized - thank goodness), drink cocktails on the sun deck or at the bar, eat fresh shrimp, curries, rice dishes and salads, jump from the roof and enjoy the many other features I have forgotten. This is the real bargain as far as I am concerned.
Serendipity Beach has a long stretch of restaurants and bars. This area is safe at night and child friendly. We choose to eat at Moon Shack as it is owned by a Khmer family. The staff are all related and the kids running around at the back are the children of various staff members. There BBQ is the best. Don't worry about food poisoning if you order the BBQ; the seafood is fresh and delicious, hence Moon Shack has a loyal and regular clientele.
Serendipity Beach was the home of the backpacker and budget traveler. This year there seemed to be a much larger number of very dodgy looking older men. This concerns me. The sleaze of Cambodia loves the Victory Beach area and used to stay there. I am not sure why they are moving down to other beaches but I wish they would not. It would be a shame if the young party crowd were given further reasons to stay in Thailand rather than experiencing the magic Cambodia has to offer. (The primary reason the party crowd may move away is the police were closing down the beach bars at midnight. This is not good for business or Cambodia as a whole in my opinion).
There are other beaches that are quieter if that is what you are looking for. Beautiful as they are during daylight, I would not recommend traveling to remote beaches at night without good local knowledge about holdups and the like.
Do visit the waterfall on a Sunday with the locals - it is a hoot.
Check out the Pagoda on top of the hill.
Eat breakfast at the little French bakery on the hill up from Serendipity. He bakes his own croissants and breads, is really cheap and very French. If he is in a bad mood it can be entertaining.
"Sure" does not mean yes. "Sure" means if you want to believe this is the truth then it can be.
One other point - do not give in to the Tuk Tuk mafia. A ride from the beach to town or Victory to Serendipity is all the same - $2. If you agree to pay more you are ruining it for everyone else. $2 is already the tourist price. $3 is a joke and any more should be a crime.

Helpful?
8 Thank thelovelyasia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ashmore ,Queensland
Level Contributor
8 reviews
21 helpful votes
“Dont be scared,,it rocks”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 19, 2010

After being in Siem Reap for 10 wonderful days,we wondered what more this place held for us.It would be hard to top our time there.But would the rest of Cambodia be as cultured and western friendly as here,or perhaps Phenom Phen.
My partner had given up on hairdryers and keeping makeup in her face,as the heat made it slip right off and the dust from TukTuk rides made the Frizz she had always battled.
Me on the other hand had slept on bamboo ,on buses,beside roads,under trucks,,rode in transport all over the world that may include rice sacks as seats,chickens as bed mates,and pigs as room mates,,,i still wanted to see the real Cambodian heart.
The 12 - 13 hours bus ride in one dAY was a but hard to take,but hey,,we got there,and to be truthful it was better than i thought it would be,,stopping periodically,,It was $9.....they played Khmer mov ies and soap opera's,,,so the entertain ment had the locals giggling,,,and us left wondering.The one thing you can count on in nearly all Cambodia central,,is WiFi,,,the German /Swiss travel buddies were amused with internet and text messaging the whole trip...no kidding,,,Riding on a bus,in middle Cambodia,,passing wodden huts,buffalo,chickens and rice paddies,,and being online to anywhere in the world,,how times have changed!!
oK,,NOW TO sIHANOUKVILLE.
tHERE IS THE MAIN TOWN CENTRE,,,Not much to do or see,,a bit grubby..we thought we would spend a night there before the beach area to see,,,,mistake!!,,,its really meant for trade and to pass through,or to go to The 'Ping-pong bar" or bunny bar if thats your thing!(of which i overherd a interesting conversation from a couple of expat's complaining that the music is too loud these days,and the young guys in tthere are getting all the attention,,how the times change)-
And note-the only person to rip me off the whole month in cambodia was an Aussie expat!
The centre is full of some average to grubby little guesthouses,
My Girlfriend had learnt after a while that before you accept a room you do a sheet inspection for signs of stains and pubic hair,,,because they exist!!
But then you move to the beach,,we stayed at bunglows at Serendipidy,,they range from quaint little older ones for 20 -25$$ to $65 for modern large ones.But all are tucked into the hills and trees,have hammocks,and lovely water views of the bay.
Ocheuteal beach flow around from here and is a short stroll,,here is the bustling daytime lounges,bars /food stalls,,and constant vendors of books,eyebrow plucking,hair braiding ect....but also the clear calm water to swim,and the best place to tak in the sunset,,The english lads at the Sessions bar can look after your every need,and were more than happy to call for a Happy pizza for us to take in the sunset and drink$0.50 beer,...this is what we wanted,,,,beach paradise
Behind the beach is a sprall of guesthouses,,no views,but a place to lay between days of beach,and nights of seafood and party.There is even a thriving dance club,and DJ's to match British dance floors.
From here it was very hard to drag ourselves away to Towns of 'Kep' and Kampot"..and out to what is possibly the closest to heaven you can get-'Lazy Beach".......we did leave and see those places,,,and the only things i can write are positive,,,but this would be another chapter altogether,,The south is just as chalming as the north,in different ways,,,It IS a DON'T MISS!!!!
My heart lays in River Village Mannor and the town of Siem Reap...but the south stole a part of it!!!!!

Helpful?
7 Thank TrippinRob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Essex
Level Contributor
44 reviews
37 helpful votes
“Sihanoukville - A place you must visit.”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 14, 2010

So i flew to phomn penh in January 2009. Spend a few days there. To be honest i didnt enjoy Phnom penh, its quite a dirty city with a rat race feel to it similar to most capitals around the world. From there i got the fast boat up to Siem Reap and spent a few days there at the Golden Banana (see my other review for that). Siem reap is a must to see the temples such as Ankor wat if you have never been before. Anyway after a few days here it was time for the relaxation part of my holiday. I took a taxi the 10 hour journey from Siem Reap down to Sihanoukville. I was staying in the area around Victory hill and Victory beach. My first impression wasn't great if im honest but i checked into the mealy chanda for a night and didnt find this a comfortable place to be (im not a backpacker type which this is ideally suited to) so i moved on to the Sunshine beach hotel which is situated right on victory beach.

Wow i was blown away. We sat drinking some cold beers on the beach, getting a massage under the palm trees, playing accoustic guitar and just chilling out. The beach although really narrow at victory beach is quite long with a few bars up along from the hotel. Its worth noting that they close fairly early but if you happen to go there - Browns cafe does some really excellent british food/full english and is run by the friendly David.

The beach is pretty much golden sand, and fairly quiet. The sea in this area is sort of buffered by snake island so the sea remains very calm nearly all the time. But the real gem of this area is watching the sun go down over the snake island from victory beach. I have never in my life seen a sunset that can match it on any level.

The feeling in this part of Sihanoukville is laid back and relaxing. On victory beach theres not a great deal to do past 9.30 when the restaurent closes, unless you walk up the beach a hundred metres or so to the russian owned nightclub there. The nightlife in this area really is on victory hill (otherwise known as weatherstation hill) where you will find a great selection of bars and restaurents. If you do go there its well worth checking out the corner bar who do some real nice food. And if im honest i spent a lot of time in Bar Retox which is a sort of relaxed hippy bar lot of backpackers go to. The owner has a large selection of instruments all setup on a little stage for people in the bar to use and openly encourages people to jam there in the evenings. I can also recommend the indian restautarent at the end of the street that do authentic indian food for a very reasonable price.

Overall i would say if you want a relaxing time and change of pace on the beach you cant go wrong with Sihanoukville. Theres plenty of guest houses for travellers from about $10 a night up to $30 a night for something a little more upmarket. Don't go expecting it to be like a Thai hoilday beach however, this isnt Thailand - but in its own right i have really fallen for Sihanoukville as a destination and will soon go back to meet the friends i have made there.

Positives-
Accommadation easy to find.
Plenty of cafes and restuarants.
Loads of nightlife open to really late.
Very good beachs
Amazing Sunsets


Negatives
Tuk tuks are expensive ($2-4 for a 5 minute journey)
Beach massage ladies and vendors can be a bit in your face.
Can be a few regular beggars everynight if you sit outside the bars.
Female travellers on their own may not feel comfortable as a lot of this area is not well lit at night.

Helpful?
8 Thank Conciousness
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
brighton
1 review
7 helpful votes
“otres beach - sihanoukvilles next big thing!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 20, 2010

We arrived in sihanoukville after a little 4hour bus ride from P.P, the hussle and bussle after getting off the bus was horrendous!!! tuk tuk drives shouting and jumping in all over the place - the best way to handle this is as soon as you've got your bags tell everyone you already have someone picking you up and move away from the crowd! use the lonely planet bible or flyers given to you to decide where you want to go! If you have a mobile on you give the place a call, they often have their own tuk tuk services to come and pick you up sometimes free of charge. If not the average price to town is $4ish and with everyone charging the same you're not likey to get it any cheaper!

Sihanoukville town is a lovely place, similar to Pai in northern Thailand. There is a hostel that gives free accomodation (don't know what the catch is! but they're dorms) and many places are around the same price. Serendipity beach used to be less than a 5minute walk from the golden lions roundabout unfortunately since the monsoon it's kind of not there any more! The locals haven't seen it before and hope it'll be back soon!
We personally found a couple of the places in town a little to clique-y - your common jocks vs newbies although everyone was friendly enough!
The nearest beach is otres beach, it's a $5 tuk tuk journey which we tried to haggle down to no avail - we found out why! there is no road to otres beach, it's a bumpy ride but so worth it! The tuk tuk drivers wont go for any less than $5 and quite rightly so!!!

on otres beach there are dozens of beautiful places to stay, very basic rooms to more lush one's made from bricks! Personally, castaways and o'stress buri were our top two! they are further downt he beach and actually have the best area of sand for sunbathing etc as some parts see a little more water than others!

Castaways have their own generator to give power through the night but unless the power lines are now installed there's no such thing as all night electricity in the other places! This isn't usually a problem, it is a little annoying if you have a few hot nights as we did but to be honest we just slept outside with no problems! an experience in itself! Most places will lend a headtorch for toilet trips etc in the night.

There isn't too much to do on otres beach - but that's the beauty of it, within a few days with all the people you've met you'll be arguing as to who should go into town to collect shampoo/conditioner/cigarettes etc as nobody wants to leave!
You can hire kayaks, go diving, swim in the warm sea that's 10metres away from your room, use inner tubes to float away and visit nearby islands. Jet ski's aren't too popular on otres beach as they tend to ruin the calmness of it all but you can hire one from the town for about $50 per half hour!

The moon shines so brightly that if you wake up at the wrong time you think it's the sun coming up, the people are so friendly and make a really great stay for you by helping you get whatever you need.

The beach sellers aren't into hassling you for your money, they're happy for you to say no thank you and if you accept a massage they'll try and give you a manicure but it's good to spread the money around if you can. Jenna a fruit seller does the best pineapples you'll ever have and will give you a game of pool if you're lucky.....if you're very lucky she'll only beat you by 6 balls!!!

A beautiful place to stay, don't take my word for it - see it! A perfect way to relax and forget that people stress and worry to much in the real world back home!

Helpful?
7 Thank laurenhhh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, WA
Level Contributor
32 reviews
10 helpful votes
“Pretty much Paradise”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 23, 2010

One of the most relaxing places in SE Asia. The beach seemed pretty safe to me (solo 29 yr-old female traveler) just be certain to keep your witts about you. I stayed at Cloud-something-or-other bungalows which were great ($15 per night) except for the little mouse that squeeked at night - even the stray cat couldn't convince him to scat! Lots of cheap spots on the beach and fair food and cheap drink.

Helpful?
3 Thank anniebsea
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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